When lightning is captured in plexiglass acrylic, you get these amazing Lichtenberg figures, or the 3D electrical trees you’ve probably seen in paperweights at your local stationary store. These figures are created through electrical discharge via an insulator, or can be formed in smaller objet d’art, the only necessity being a large quantity of electrons being pumped in. When the plexiglass goes through the electron accelerator, it’s loaded with a charge that gets trapped inside, while a quick mechanical shock discharges the acrylic, creating the tree-like figures. Read more for another video and additional information.
“Mercury Plastics’ Neo-Beam facility, a 5MeV electron accelerator that’s usually used to deliver energy for molecular cross linking in PEX tubing to enhance chemical resistance. For one day, some of the folks at i3Detroit were able to take over the line, shuffling a thousand or so acrylic parts through the machine to create Lichtenberg figures,” reports HackADay